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May 17, 2021
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Zoom (details below)

Spring 2021 Colloquium

May 17 | 4PM - 5PM PST

Speaker Bharat Venkat (UCLA)

“At the Limits of Cure”

What does it mean to be cured, and what does it mean for a cure to come undone? This talk draws from my forthcoming book At the Limits of Cure (Duke University Press, fall 2021), which focuses on the history and present of tuberculosis treatment in India. Drawing on ethnographic and historical materials, as well as film, fiction, and folklore, I examine cure in its various iterations—from sanatoriums and gold therapy to travel and antibiotics—as well as how such cures come up against their limits. Through an anthropological history, this book explores a range of curative imaginations that have taken form around tuberculosis: in debates contrasting idyllic sanatoriums and crowded prisons, through which freedom in its many forms became envisioned as a kind of therapy; in the itineraries of ships filled with coolies and soldiers seeking work and treatment across the British empire; in the networks of scientists who tested antibiotics in India as a means of asking whether poverty really mattered to therapeutic success; in clinics where patients were told that they were cured only to undergo treatment again and again; and in the reworking of midcentury anxieties about population growth in relation to contemporary drug resistance in India’s urban centers. A central contention of this book--and my talk--is that our imagination of cure shapes our understanding of time: not only the temporality underlying histories of science and medicine, but also, the temporality of therapy itself.

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